Sunday, July 14, 2024
Sunday, July 14, 2024

Red Wolves Preview: Hawaiian shirts in the Winter

It’s going to be a long winter without local football. And while I’m sure some fans will be glad to see the back of this season, after 3-4 weeks absent the mechanisms, sights, sounds, and smells of matchdays, we’re going to miss it. I’m going to miss it. Sure, I’ll probably bring my sleepy head downtown to Danny’s Pub to watch some Premier League games (honestly, hopefully more WSL than EPL if I have my druthers, even if it’s on a laptop) — but it’s not the same as a Saturday night at Breese. I’ll take a boring-as-hell 0-0 or 1-1 Forward Madison draw every time over watching Arsenal win on TV. And while an Islington / Borehamwood trip may be on the cards this winter, it’s a completely different experience (and a preferable one, frankly) to only have to drive across town and see thousands of my friends and fellow Madisonians all hoping and pushing for our club — our team — to win the day.

I’ll miss the nervous energy setting up the Flock End on matchday afternoons. I’ll miss those first sips of lagers at Robinia Courtyard pregame, chatting to friends as they roll in, waiting for those goddamned kung pao brussels sprouts which have to contain some sort of addictive illicit substance to be that good. I’ll miss hugging strangers and the beer showers after goals. I’ll miss seeing Tryg and the rest of the grounds crew as they feverishly lay down fresh paint lines on the turf before the players come out to warm up. I’ll miss the blazing heat of mid-August games, and going home gritty from the salt and sweat. I’ll miss sipping whiskey sours and chatting up the players and coaches as they arrive to the afterparties. I’ll miss having a drum to smack, songs to sing, and room to pace about nervously during games. I’ll miss it all.

And while I’ll need some space and time for a lot of reasons after this season is done, I’m already deep down yearning for spring and the new season, a fresh start filled with possibility and hope for a trophy. And even if that optimism is dashed again, I’ll still love every minute of it.

Flock End Season Ticket Price Change

An email went out to season ticket holders yesterday, outlining a price drop in Flock End (supporter section) season tickets from the original $324 down to $288. FMFC Chief Operating Officer and owner Conor Caloia collected feedback from some season ticket holders, and after some internal club-side discussion, they decided that the proposed price increases for the Flock End section was too much for one season. They also apologized for the poor communication and not conducting additional due diligence before releasing the 2022 renewal prices. The new $288 price tag for the Flock End is effectively reduced by by $2 per ticket, per game. When I asked Senior Ticket Sales rep Jovan Chavez about the change, he had the following to say:

“It shows our commitment to listen to our supporters and we recognize that we aren’t where we are without our fans, especially the Flock End! It is the heart and soul of Breese stevens field and we want to see it continue to grow.”

Hopefully this is positive recinforcement for those skeptical that offering feedback would accomplish something. Sometimes as fans we have to be assertive and speak our piece, because even if a decision doesn’t go our way, the club as least knows our position/feelings. And despite all the jokes about having more kits than wins, jokes about being a fashion house that also has a football club — this club is not just focused on making $$$ — if that was the case they’d have shuttered in 2019 like Lansing. Lower league football is rarely a winning investment, and even with FMFC’s marketing machine, they’ve had massive revenue losses the past 2 seasons due to the pandemic (it goes well beyond gate revenue, but we’ll cover that in a forthcoming financials post).

FMFC vs Red Wolves: Players to Watch

Red Wolves

Since coming to Chattanooga this season from Colombian side Fortaleza CEIF, Juan Galindrez has scored 10 of Chattanooga’s 27 goals this season under Jimmy Obleda. Now 27 years of age, Galindrez’s early pro career offered a more prolific goal-scoring record, bagging 21 goals in 34 games for Club Tijuana’s reserve side. The Colombian notably played under Maradona at Dorados de Sinaloa, but only featured six times for the side. He’ll certainly be looking to add to his 2021 goal tally, with Marky Hernandez the likely supply line.

Madison

While this game is definitely not meaningless to either side, part of me wonders whether we’ll see the usual lineup in this last game, or a slightly different one with the assumption that some of the current squad won’t be back next season. Saturday night’s match might be an opportunity for some of those guys who haven’t featured much this season to get a run out in front of the home fans, to allow them a proper send-off from the Madison faithful. Featured players in 2020 whose options were exercised and haven’t seen many minutes include Mike Vang, Gustavo Fernandez, and to a degree, Noah Fuson.

I think a lot of people had high hopes for Vang, especially after his bright start last season and the plaudits from coaching staff. I’m not sure exactly why he’s fallen out of favor (I’ve heard rumors of injuries and locker room issues) but it’s a bit of a shame that he’ll have come in like a lion and gone out like a lamb while his 2020 home shirt hangs in the State Historical Society in downtown Madison. If he’s been injured, some public-facing communication from the club would have been nice at some point this season. As a fan I can’t help but be a bit frustrated that we’ve struggled so much to find form this year, while proven goalscorers in this league don’t even travel to away games.

Fuson is someone I’d like to see get a start Saturday night, because with just 8 starts in 21 appearances, you have to assume he’ll want to move on next year to a club that will give him more minutes. Noah was a player who quickly connected with fans during the 2020 season, and someone I’d really hoped would kick on and build on the bright spots seen last year. He might not have been as prolific as Vang, Don Smart, or Paulo Jr., but you could see how much he relished playing in front of the home fans and it’s something I’d hoped we’d see more in 2021. If he scores Saturday night, I hope he comes to celebrate in the Flock End regardless of which goal we’re attacking because while he may not be Turbo (who is?), Noah has a special connection with the fans.

Fine Margins

Chattanooga aren’t that far off of this Madison team in terms of goals for and against at six apiece (Chattanooga: 36-27, Madison 30-33). it goes to show you if the Flamingos had scored another goal or simply not conceded an equalizer in a half dozen games this season, they’d be right up there contending for a home playoff game. Because the Red Wolves have to win this weekend to clinch second place and a quarterfinal bye, they will be giving this game everything they have. I hope our guys are up for the challenge Saturday night and can play with some swagger and some abandon, having the pressure fully off. The fans deserve a fun, action-packed game after the season we’ve had.

As I said at the top: it’s going to be a long winter, so I hope we go home from Breese Saturday with good memories to sustain us through the cold months ahead.

Author

  • Andrew Schmidt

    Eclecticist, FMFC supporter, Flock co-founder, designer of things, and taker of photos. Writer, wrench, motorcyclist. Pro-intellectualist, anti-pedant. Drinker of coffee and greeter of dogs.

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